Even though orthodontics has seen a number of innovative new technologies in recent years, traditional braces are still one of the best tools we have when it comes to creating beautifully aligned smiles for patients of all ages. Modern designs are durable, affordable, and more comfortable than ever before, so it’s no wonder braces are the top orthodontic treatment year after year!

If you’ve made the decision to move forward with braces treatment from Langford Orthodontics, we’re excited to work with you on improving your oral health and achieving a straighter, healthier smile. It’s common for you to still have some questions and concerns, though, and that’s why we’ve created this guide. We appreciate the trust you’ve placed in us, and want you to feel confident in the choice you’ve made, so we’ve put together a collection of everything you need to know before beginning orthodontic treatment. Keep reading to learn more!

Dr. Langford working on a patient's teeth

What are braces made of?

To understand how braces work, it helps to gain a better understanding of what they’re composed of. There are several moving parts involved, but we’ll go over the most important ones below.


Brackets are the part of braces that we attach directly to your teeth. They’re typically made from a mix of stainless steel, nickel, ceramic, or other high-quality materials, so they’re very durable. Brackets have tiny hooks or doors over which the wire is threaded, and are secured by closing the door or by applying an elastic over the top of the wire.


Tooth glue is technically a form of the same composite bonding material that we use for tooth-colored fillings or sealants. This adhesive is used to attach the brackets to the teeth. In some cases, we may use metal bands on the back teeth in conjunction with the glue to give braces more leverage and stability.


This thin piece of metal runs from one bracket to another, and the changes in its shape and curvature are what prompt the teeth to move where we want them to go. With some patients, the wire will attach all the bottom or upper teeth together. For others, we may choose to cut the wire strategically if connecting only a few teeth makes more sense for the treatment plan.


Although most patients will need elastics at some point in their treatment plan, they’re essential for patients in need of bite correction. The elastics are usually strung between an upper bracket hook and a lower bracket hook, pulling the upper teeth backwards to correct an overbite, or the lower teeth backwards to correct an underbite. We use rubber bands for many different situations, but they can be especially useful for bringing the upper and lower teeth together successfully.

Orthodontic bands

These stainless steel rings are cemented to the teeth using dental bonding agents to provide an anchor for braces and other orthodontic appliances. We don’t need to use them with every patient.

How do braces work?

The customized treatment plan that Dr. Langford creates for you will include information on how each tooth needs to be moved in order to get it in the best position. The brackets will be placed on your teeth based on this information, and once they’ve been attached, the wire will be inserted. We use bends in the wire to encourage specific and precise movements, with each bend providing a different type of pressure on different teeth. This process of tooth movement is called remodeling, and involves minor changes in the bone that surrounds the roots of teeth.

When pressure is put on the tooth, as with braces, cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts form around the tooth’s root. The pressure of the wire then works with these osteoblasts and osteoclasts to create a negative pressure on one side of the tooth. At this site, bone is removed. On the other side of the tooth, bone is reformed. This pressure and remodeling is what slowly moves each tooth into the desired position.

However, the remodeling process can only occur if constant pressure is put on the teeth. Once that pressure stops, such as when your braces are removed, the tooth will settle into its new position. But over time, without that previously consistent pressure, most teeth start to drift back to their old positions. This is exactly why retainers are so important, and why we provide you with one as soon as your braces come off! As long as you wear it as directed by Dr. Langford, it will help keep your teeth aligned and prevent any natural drifting.

The best way to care for your braces

Learning to care for your braces can take a little patience and practice. We recommend that you brush your teeth thoroughly at least two times each day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after meals and before bed. You should pay careful attention to the areas between the brackets and gums, and carefully clean between the wires and teeth. If you find this difficult, try using an interdental brush to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris.

Flossing is another essential part of maintaining oral health, especially when you’re in braces. It should be done at least once per day, preferably before bedtime. If you find it difficult to floss with braces, floss threaders or an oral irrigator like a Waterpik can be helpful in removing food particles and plaque. Just remember, these supplemental tools should never take the place of a regular brushing and flossing routine.

Food restrictions

Food restrictions can be frustrating, especially for new braces patients, but they are necessary to protect both your braces and your teeth. Throughout the treatment process, you’ll need to avoid anything that’s too crunchy or too chewy. This includes things like chips, ice, gum, some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, and many types of candy. This can take some getting used to, but remember that food restrictions are only temporary! All your hard work and dedication will be more than worth it when your braces come off and you see your beautiful new smile for the first time.  

Treatment times will vary from patient to patient

When it comes to treatment times, there’s no “one size fits all” answer. Every smile is unique, and each patient responds to treatment in their own way. There are other factors to consider, as well, including the severity of your issues and your overall compliance. On average, however, the active stage of orthodontic treatment tends to last anywhere from 6-24 months. Obviously this could be longer or shorter, depending on your particular case.

Dr. Langford talking to a patient at the front desk

Get the smile you’ve always wanted with Langford Orthodontics

The first step in any orthodontic journey with Langford Orthodontics is a FREE consultation with Dr. Langford. If you’re in Knoxville or any of the surrounding communities and want to explore what our braces have to offer you, get in touch today. The smile you deserve is waiting here for you!

- Dr. Langford

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